Category Archives: Cake

Better Than the Super Bowl Peanut Butter Torte

So, the Super Bowl happened a week or so ago. I can’t really remember because other than the blackout, that was about the most boring Super Bowl ever. Though, I guess I should complain because the new Beyonce photo-oops came out of it…and there was the Puppy Bowl with hedgehog cheerleaders. Did you read that? HEDGEHOG CHEERLEADERS! It was beyond adorable. Anyway, we went to a party for the “game”. I was told to bring cornbread and something that combined peanut butter and chocolate. I love these friends, cause they asked for the two types of food I love beyond all else. I guess I should start with the most impressive of the things I brought…Peanut Butter Torte.

Words cannot describe this joy, only guttural grunts of pleasure.

Words cannot describe this joy, only guttural grunts of pleasure.

This recipe was adapted from Annie’s Eats, more like almost directly from Annie’s Eats. I did not even change the directions; she just writes them so clearly! This woman is awesome and I suggest you give her site a visit; it is well worth it. The torte was awesome, obviously! It has a lovely creamy texture with a surprising crunch of peanuts and chocolate in it. I think the only thing I changed from the original recipe was that I used honey-roasted peanuts instead of salted peanuts. I have a big sweet tooth. The torte got rave reviews and was enjoyed by all!

Aaron took this one!!!

Aaron took this one!!!

Peanut Butter Torte
Adapted from Annie’s Eats


For the crust:
32 Oreo cookies, finely processed into crumbs
5 1/3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Small pinch of salt

For the crunch:
½ cup honey-roasted peanuts, finely chopped
½ cup mini chocolate chips
2 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. espresso powder
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
Dash of ground nutmeg

For the filling:
2 cups heavy cream
1¼ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
12 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1½ cups creamy peanut butter (not natural)
2 tbsp. whole milk
¼ cup honey-roasted peanuts, finely chopped

For the topping:
½ cup heavy cream
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup  honey-roasted peanuts, finely chopped


1. To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and place it on a baking sheet. Combine the Oreo crumbs, melted butter and salt in a small bowl. Toss with a fork to moisten all of the crumbs. Press into a thin layer covering the bottom and sides of the springform pan. Freeze the crust for 10 minutes. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before filling.

2. To make the crunch, in another small bowl combine ½ cup of the chopped peanuts, mini chocolate chips, sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. Toss with a fork to mix and set aside.

3. To prepare the filling, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip 2 cups of the cream until it holds medium peaks. Beat in ¼ cup of confectioners’ sugar and whip until the cream holds medium-firm peaks. Scrape the cream into a separate bowl and refrigerate until needed.

4. Wipe out (do not wash) the mixer bowl, replace the whisk with the paddle attachment, and beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until the cream cheese is satiny smooth. Beat in the peanut butter, whole milk, and ¼ cup of the chopped peanuts until well combined.

5. Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in about 1/4 of the whipped cream just to lighten the mousse. Still working with the spatula, stir in the crunchy peanut mixture, then gingerly fold in the remaining whipped cream. Scrape the mousse into the crust, mounding and smoothing the top. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight; cover with plastic wrap as soon as the mousse firms.

6. To finish the torte, put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Leave the bowl over the water just until the chocolate softens and starts to melt, about 3 minutes; remove the bowl from the saucepan. Bring the ½ cup of cream to a full boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and, working with a rubber spatula, very gently stir together until the ganache is completely blended and smooth.

7. Pour the ganache over the torte, smoothing with a metal icing spatula. Scatter the peanuts over the top and chill to set the topping, at least 20 minutes. When the ganache is firm, remove the sides of the springform pan. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Amaze everyone!

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Posted by on February 11, 2013 in Cake, Chocolate, Dessert, Peanut Butter


Lemon Chocolate Cake for Carrie!

Carrie, the wonderful woman, in the Anthropology Department who does ALL the administrative stuff and answers the annoying questions us grad students ask was recently promoted to work for the Dean. While this was a great move for her, it was a very sad move for the rest of us. Carrie’s bright, smiling face could make any bad day better. Of course the department threw her a going away party and I offered to make a cake. I had originally wanted this cake to be a surprise, but then I realized I would be better if she got something she wanted than be surprised by something she didn’t. I learned her favorite flavors are lemon and dark chocolate. So, I devised a lemon cake that is brushed with lemon syrup, with homemade lemon curd in between the four cake layers and topped the whole thing off with some dark chocolate frosting. The day of the party I brought the cake in and found the woman in charge of the party who said, “Oh, how wonderful, but the party is not until next week.” Um…oops! Well, I was not about to waste a whole cake, nor was I going to take the thing home for only Aaron and I to consume. So, I just took my cake and marched on over to the Dean’s office to deliver the cake to Carrie personally. She was absolutely delighted as was the Dean and the guest he was giving a tour to – that is right, the Washington University Dean ate one of my baked goods! The reviews were as such, “People’s faces have been lighting up as they exclaim ‘Amazing!’; ‘Professionally done!’, ‘I’ve never had the lemon-chocolate combo–wow!’, ‘Seriously, incredible’ and ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!’”

The finished product

Anyway, the recipes all came from Martha Stewart. The cake and curd were fabulous together. The dark chocolate frosting I have made before. It is an extremely deep chocolatey frosting. However, when following the recipe exactly, the frosting takes FOREVER to set up which means it also takes forever to finish a cake. So, this time, I added more powdered sugar to stiffen up the frosting and make my decorating life easier. Unfortunately, the negative result of this is that the frosting becomes a bit too sweet and then gets super hard when the whole cake is chilled. So, the recipe below is the original recipe without the extra powdered sugar I added. I would suggest you make the frosting and let it chill for a little bit in the fridge before attempting to apply it to the cake, and then it should be fine.

Commence Deliciousness!

Lemon Cake with Dark Chocolate Frosting
Adapted slightly from Martha Stewart: cake, lemon curd and frosting

For the Lemon Cake:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pans
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ tablespoon lemon zest
1 ½ cups sugar
2 large eggs plus 3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup + 2 tablespoons buttermilk

For the Lemon Curd:
4 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
¾ cup sugar
½ cup fresh lemon juice (from about 4 lemons)
2 tablespoons lemon zest
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

For the Dark Chocolate Frosting:
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon boiling water
2 ¼ cups (4 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ pounds best-quality semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled

For the Lemon Syrup:
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
1 lemon thinly sliced seeded
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)


Order of Operations: Make the cake, then as soon as it is in the oven make the lemon curd and begin melting the chocolate for the frosting, then as soon as the lemon curd is the fridge make the chocolate, and finally as soon as the frosting is in the fridge make the lemon syrup that gets brushed over the cake.

For the Cake:

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour two 8-by-2-inch cake pans, tapping out excess flour. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest.

2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and 1 ½ cups sugar until light and fluffy. With mixer on low, beat in eggs and yolks, one at a time. Beat in 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined.

3. Divide batter between pans; smooth tops. Bake until cakes pull away from sides of pans, 32 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pans 10 minutes. Run a knife around edges of pans and invert cakes onto a wire rack.

For the Lemon Curd:

1. Place all ingredients except the butter in a bowl over a pot of simmering water; whisk until thickened, about 5 minutes.

2. Strain into a small bowl; add butter, and whisk until smooth.

3. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on surface; refrigerate until cold. Lemon curd will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 3 days.

For the Dark Chocolate Frosting:

1. Combine cocoa and the boiling water, stirring until cocoa has dissolved.

2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, confectioners’ sugar, and salt until pale and fluffy.

3. Reduce speed to low. Add melted and cooled chocolate, beating until combined and scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

4. Beat in the cocoa mixture.

5. Place in fridge for about 20-30 minutes, stirring it around whenever you get a moment.

For the Lemon Syrup:

1. Bring ½ cup sugar and ½ cup water to a boil in a saucepan. Add lemon slices and simmer 25 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer lemon slices to a waxed-paper-lined plate and set aside. Stir remaining ¼ cup fresh lemon juice into syrup.

2. Using a toothpick, poke holes in warm cakes on rack. Brush with lemon syrup. Let cool completely.

3. Slice each cake in half horizontally to create a total of four layers

4. Use the lemon slices to decorate the top of the cake if you like.

Assembling the Cake:

1. Place one layer of the cake on the board or container you are using. Using a pastry bag with a Wilton #12 tip on it, fill the bag with the dark chocolate frosting. Pipe a ring of frosting along the outer edge of the cake. Then take one half of the lemon curd and pour it on the cake and spread it out evenly within the chocolate frosting ring. The theory here is that the chocolate frosting ring keeps the curd from oozing out in between the cake layers.

2. Place the second cake layer on top of the one you just covered in curd. Put a layer of the chocolate frosting on top of this layer.

3. Repeat step #1 with the 3rdcake layer.

4. Place the fourth layer on top of that, and frost the entire outside of the cake with chocolate frosting.

5. Decorate the top with the lemon slices you pulled out from the lemon syrup

6. If not using immediately, place the cake in the fridge since the curd can go bad.

Now go and amaze your friends!


Posted by on March 29, 2012 in Cake, Chocolate, Frosting, Lemon


Applesauce Coffee Cake: A Breakfast-Dinner Delight

Last week I was invited to a Breakfast-for-Dinner Party by friends with whom I bonded over a cadaver…we all took and/or taught Gross Anatomy together. You can only imagine what dinner (or Breakfast-for-Dinner) conversation must be like. One of the hosts gave me a rough list of what other people were bringing and there was a glaring absence of potatoes. I decided to bring hash browns (recipe to come), an integral component of any breakfast. However, I am known among this lovely group of people not only for my rather unusual dissection methods but also for my baking. So, a coffee cake seemed like the clear choice for this get together. I made this Applesauce Coffee Cake once before for a baby shower brunch, and it was a huge hit!

This recipe comes from Martha Stewart. Despite what some people make think of good ol’ Martha this woman can bake. I used to follow her recipes to an OCD level; however, as I have gotten more comfortable with my own skills, I have taken more liberties. Instead of store bought applesauce, I make my own which also comes from a Martha Stewart recipe that I have changed a good deal. Also, if you make your own applesauce for the recipe you can leave it a bit chunkier so you get nice apple chunks in the cake. I add more applesauce than called for and put in some more spice as well. Again, this coffee cake turned out extremely well (despite my oven randomly turning off for no reason halfway through the baking process). It is an incredibly moist, not-too-sweet cake that has a lovely crunchy topping.

Applesauce Coffee Cake
Adapted from Martha Stewart



For Applesauce
3 lbs apples (I just get the 3 lbs bag of little green apples – Granny Smith) – peeled, cored, and cut into chunks
1 cinnamon stick
4 heaping tablespoons sugar
¾ cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger

For Cake:
Butter or Vegetable-oil cooking spray to grease pan
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups chopped toasted pecans
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 heaping cups or applesauce (homemade or store-bought)
1 apple (your choice in type – I usedFuji), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges


To Toast Pecans:
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees
2. Lay pecan out on a cookie sheet
3. Bake in oven for 10 minutes
4. Let cool
5. Chop them up

For Applesauce:
1. Put the chopped up apples in a large pot, add cinnamon stick, cinnamon, ground ginger, water, sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
2. Once at a boil, reduce temperature to medium low.
3. Cook for about 20 minutes until all the apples are tender and mushy. You can mash the apples down more if you like, but I prefer to leave yummy apple chunks.

Look at that steam coming off the homemade apple sauce!

For Cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Coat a 10-inch angel-food-cake pan with butter or cooking spray; set aside.
3. Make crumb topping: Stir together 4 tablespoons butter, the dark-brown sugar, oats, 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon salt until smooth. Stir in 1/2 cup pecans; set aside.
4. Make batter: Sift flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cloves, ground ginger, remaining 2 teaspoons cinnamon and 3/4 teaspoon salt; set aside.
5. Put 1 stick of butter, the granulated sugar, and light-brown sugar in the bowl and mix until smooth. Mix in the eggs, one at a time. Mix in applesauce and then flour mixture. Stir in remaining cup of nuts.
6. Pour batter into oiled pan; sprinkle reserved crumb topping over batter. Lay sliced apples on top, tucking some into batter.
7. Bake until a cake tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack.


Enjoy your Breakfast…or Dinner…or Breakfast-for-Dinner!

...and After

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Posted by on February 4, 2012 in Breakfast, Cake, Dessert